Healthcare Emergency Management Competencies, Curriculum and Certification Recommendations

Since 2004, the ICDRM has supported the development of an on-line Emergency Management Academy (EMA) for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The multiple project deliverables have been designed and implemented to support the VA Medical Centers in preparing to respond to emergencies and disasters, and in maintaining critical healthcare services for those who served in the U.S. Uniformed Services. VHA also stipulated that the products be developed so they are useful to non-VHA healthcare facilities. The total budget for the component projects was approximately $1.2M.

Multiple products have been developed and are available for use by the VHA and other healthcare organizations seeking to improve or expand their emergency management program. Products by year include:

  • 2005: A comprehensive Healthcare Emergency Management Competency Framework was developed, based upon extensive research into the historical development of competencies. The Framework was then used to develop emergency response and recovery competencies for all personnel (core competencies) and for specific healthcare job groups (Healthcare Leaders, Patient Care Providers, Emergency Managers). Products were peer evaluated by VHA and non-VHA personnel with experience in emergency response, using an on-line survey.
    The Healthcare Emergency Management Competency Framework has been updated and and the final report re-published on October 11, 2007.


  • 2006: A detailed instructional curriculum, Emergency Management Principles and Practices for Healthcare Systems was produced. This five-volume set presents the full spectrum of emergency management for healthcare professionals. It addresses the history and concepts of Comprehensive Emergency Management, Hazard Vulnerability Analysis, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, with applications relevant to healthcare systems. An emergency management glossary of terms was also developed to promote consistency in terminology across the curriculum and competencies.
    Much of the competency and curriculum work was used by VHA in development of the VHA Capability Assessment Program, used to objectively assess all VHA facilities over a three year period from 2007-2010.

  • 2007: ICDRM Project Team personnel produced recommendations for the development of an Emergency Management Certification Program for Healthcare System Leaders and for Emergency Management Program Managers. A certification program white paper was developed and used to guide discussions during an initial stakeholders’ meeting, which occurred April 5, 2007. For a report on that meeting and the certification program white paper, please click here. The program recommendations are presented in the project’s final report VHA-EMA Healthcare Emergency Management Professional Certification Program . For the final project report, please click here.

    The original emergency response and recovery competencies were revised, plus additional emergency response and recovery competencies were established for the remaining healthcare job groups (Clinical Support Services, Police and Security Services, and Facility and Engineering Services). Emergency management program competencies were also developed for Healthcare Leaders and Emergency Managers, focusing upon mitigation, preparedness and general program competencies that complement the previously developed emergency response and recovery competency sets. This update and expanded competency focused work was produced as Appendix C in the Certification Program Report, and is titled Healthcare Emergency Management Competencies: Competency Framework Final Report (October 11, 2007). Please click here to download Appendix C.


  • 2009-2010: The ICDRM Project Team developed a new set of competencies for a function-specific healthcare group: Personnel Deployment Competencies for Distant Emergencies. The VHA used this product for a gap analysis in the VHA Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS), for revisions and improvements in the DEMPS program, and for development of competency-based education and training for involved personnel. The competency set, as with other guidance products in this series, was developed to be also useful for non-VHA personnel as well.

    Extensive revision and update of the curriculum Emergency Management Principles and Practices for Healthcare Systems (June 2010) was also conducted. Additional detail was developed for the Healthcare System Emergency Operations Plan and for other response-oriented guidance. The ICDRM Emergency Management Glossary of Terms (June 2010) is revised and expanded to support this updated curriculum.

    Download the Emergency Management Principles and Practices for Healthcare Systems 2nd edition:

    Unit 1: The Emergency Management Program
    Unit 2: Incident Command System (ICS), Multiagency Coordination Systems (MACS) and the Application of Strategic NIMS Principles
    Unit 3: Healthcare System Emergency Response and Recovery
    Unit 4: Emergency Management System Evaluation and Organizational Learning for Healthcare Systems
    Unit 5: Appendices
    The VHA-EMA Emergency Management Competency Framework Report (October 11, 2007), Healthcare Emergency Response and Recovery Competencies: All Personnel (core) and Major Job Groups, plus Healthcare Emergency Management Program Competencies: Healthcare Leaders and Emergency Management Program Managers (Revised June 30, 2010), and Personnel Deployment Competencies for Distant Emergencies: Report and Competencies (July 10, 2009) are all now available.